Tip and Tail Attachments
The tip attachments of the Alpinist and the High Tractions are the same, a design that uses two articulating hands that swivel to adjust to the shape of the tip, rather than the traditional tip loop design. This attachment snugly and securely attaches the skin to every ski I’ve tried it on, and I have mostly used the Alpinist with the ON3P Caylor, Liberty Double Helix, and Salomon Rocker2 115.
The tail attachment of the High Traction, however, features a newer design (first introduced in 2011-2012) than my Alpinists. I actually liked the older design on the Alpinists quite a bit, but the current design on the pair of High Traction skis I tested is a big improvement. But to fully understand why, I’ll first need to describe G3’s old tail attachment as well as Black Diamond’s attachment, because the new design on the High Traction combines the best attributes of both.
In G3’s old system, a metal piece is free to slide up and down the length of the tail strap. To secure the skin, one puts the metal piece over the tail, tightens the strap, and fixes one of the holes on a single tooth that sticks off the metal piece—basically like a mini belt buckle. I use my skins for several different skis in a given season, so I like the ease of adjustability that the old system offers. It is also nice to have the entire tail attachment system in one piece.
Black Diamond’s STS tail attachment system, while similar, requires you to remove a similar metal clip from the tail strap in order to adjust for a different ski. The clip is inserted into the proper slot in the tail strap for a given ski. Then, once this clip is in the proper place, you pull clip over the tail of the ski, tensioning the skin in the process.
One downside of the BD design is durability. I have ripped the plastic part of the tail connecter when trying to adjust for a different pair of skis. Also, a loose clip is not as secure of a system as one that stays in one piece. But if you only use your skins for one pair of skis, which most people do, adjusting the tailpiece becomes a non-issue, and many people prefer the Black Diamond STS because of the tensioning capability of the tail clip.
G3’s current tail connecter combines the ease of adjustability of the connecter on older G3 skins with the tensioning capabilities of the Black Diamond STS. This design has a metal clip that hinges on a grey plastic piece with three teeth that hook into the strap from both sides. These teeth secure the clip in a fixed position on the tail strap and, when the clip is pulled over the tail of the ski, the whole system is tightened down. Once adjusted properly, the connecter gives the right amount of tension every time.
The tail clip and strap also lie flat on the tail of the ski. This eliminates any drag, which sometimes occurred with the old design.
With this current design, the grey plastic part of the connecter is still able to slide up and down the strap, but with three teeth instead of one, it is more secure than (but not as durable as) the singular, fully metal piece used before. The hinged metal clip is able to tension the skin just as effectively the Black Diamond STS.